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Question: What was you standout moment for the world of Tobacco Harm Reduction in 2023?
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Martin Cullip: I think it's got to be the implosion of COP10. You know, this meeting that we were looking forward to all year and in the end it was postponed into February, they said because of unrest in Panama, but could equally be because they had a mess up with their contract of the people to organize in the conference. But, you know, this was posing all sorts of threats and now we have until February more time to fight against those threats.
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Question: What will be one of the most significant THR news stories for UK vapers in 2024?
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Martin Cullip: Yeah, the UK consultation that's, as we're talking now, is currently ongoing. It has all sorts of proposals to restrict vaping products, maybe ban flavours, maybe put them behind shutters, plain packaging. There are suggestions they might want to ban disposable products or single-use vapes. And all of these proposals could have a dramatic effect on stopping the benefits of harm reduction in helping people who smoke to quit to safer products. And all of it is led really by a moral panic based on nothing but often ignorance and a gullibility to believe scary media stories. So hopefully the government will stand strong against that and won't do anything damaging to public health in this regard.
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Question: What are Michelle Minton's hopes for 2024 and beyond?
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Brent Stafford: Michelle, I've got a two part question for you. Looking ahead to 2024, what do you wish for on behalf of THR in the US?
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Michelle Minton: So many things. I mean, number one, I would hope that the all of the governments around the world or all of the scientists around the world who have over the last several years kind of pulled themselves, you know, deconstructed their tobacco control indoctrination and started to actually look at the science and say, hey, Hang on, you know, these products might not be harmless, whether we're talking about e-cigarettes or pouches or whatever, might not be harmless, but clearly safer and clearly helping millions of people already. Maybe we should change our paradigm when it comes to tobacco. I'd love to see that. And then the other thing I'd like to see, really, are people in the drug space, the drug reform space, not ignoring, you know, not not taking away from the work there are the very good work they're already doing. But I would like to see some of them kind of acknowledge that what's been happening around e-cigarettes and tobacco policy is functionally another arm of the drug war and should be addressed as such, because in the tobacco space, some of us try and talk about it, but it rarely gets discussed are the the consequences of tobacco control policies, whether that's criminal justice or mental health or something else.
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Brent Stafford: Now, do you think any of that will happen?
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Michelle Minton: I'm optimistic in what's been happening on the international stage where you have the Philippines, a pretty small country, kind of fighting back against the World Health Organization. You have New Zealand going against what Australia is doing. You have a few other countries, Thailand and a few others are talking about lifting their e-cigarette ban after witnessing what happened when they banned those products and what has been happening in other countries that have banned these products. So all of that is encouraging. And when JUUL was denied its PMTA, And when the FDA denied JUUL its approval to sell its products in America, I noticed quite a few drug reform advocates for the first time really coming out and saying that they use those products or they know people who use Juul to quit and that it was a real shame and it shouldn't, you know, it shouldn't be taken off the market. So there might be some more interest happening there. But, you know me, I am an extremely optimistic person for some reason. So I'm always kind of inclined to look on the bright side.
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Brent Stafford: Go 2024.